We use the frontier myth and the rhetoric of the Indian Wars as a heuristic for analyzing four racial valences in presidential rhetoric on the War on Terror. First, the naming of the enemy in both instances racializes and conflates identities, amplifying a potential threat and justifying a similarly amplified reaction. Second, the war zone is characterized by shifting borders and alliances, suggesting a racialized political hierarchy in which the United States wars against nonwhite tribal leaders. Third, presidents distinguish between savagery and civilization in war practices such that technology, specifically contrasted to trickery, is a marker of whiteness. Fourth, in both wars, the disciplining of nonwhite bodies is justified as the means to spreading and preserving democracy.
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